#MUFFApproved: Lowdown Tracks
dir. Shelley Saywell
Lowdown Tracks premiered at Hot Docs festival in 2015 and won second place Audience Choice Award.
Taking six musicians with lived experience of homelessness as its subject matter, director Shelley Saywell and Producer Deborah Parks take us on a challenging but hopeful journey through the streets of Toronto with Lowdown Tracks. They follow the story of six people who live on the margins of society: Maryanne Epp, Bruce, Wendell (Woody), Anthony, Katt, and The Rail Yard Ghosts.
Each of these artists is a unique musician, some of whom you may have seen busking in and around the Toronto area. The music they sing is sometimes their own and sometimes a cover. However, there is nothing usual about any of their voices: rich, organic and free. Talent exists everywhere!
What makes this film powerful, and me tear up every time, is hearing about their struggle to fit into a society that really has done little to protect its people at all levels.
I think we like to believe Canada is a generous lover and has its arms open wide to all citizens. But this movie uncovers what is really happening: from strict shelter regulations (that need to be amended ASAP) to living each day, day by day, shunned by society and labeled as “homeless” first, human second, and not having that “list to do” (Anthony, LDT). Perhaps a life we can’t even begin to imagine.
However challenging the film is, there is hope. Since touring across Canada, all the musicians have been offered housing and support (healthcare/shelter). This film is really a catalyst for conversation and actions that need to be made by everyone in the city.
Lowdown Tracks features a lot of talented women behind-the-scenes, which is why it's #MUFFApproved! First of all, Shelley Saywell, award-winning documentarian (other films include Rape: A Crime of War, In the Name of the Family, and Out of the Fire) and truly the most lovely of people; Deborah Parks, resilient and creative Producer and a big-hearted individual; Deborah Palloway, film editor extraordinaire; Lorraine Segato, Juno winner and documentary commentator; and Jackie Garrow, impact producer, world traveler, and the coolest mom in town.
I don’t know if I need to say anymore... I mean dream team!
Shelley and Deborah have known each other for over twenty years, working side-by-side on documentary projects and travelling across the seas to capture awe-inspiring stories. Deborah told me one evening that her career with Shelley began when they were 26. A potential film idea came up and they jumped at the chance. They packed their bags, sought funding (or at least a bit of cash to pay for the trip) and headed to the continent of Africa. And POOF. Made a documentary… (or at least we wish it was that easy eh?).
Yes to all women production team. Yes to femme fatales in Toronto. Hello Canada!!